Local woman who recovered from COVID-19 speaks out about her experience to calm fears and urge seriousness

For the first time, we are hearing from a member of our community who contracted COVID-19. She shared her story with Boston 25 News because she wanted to calm some fears by explaining what her experience was like.

Her experience is directly connected to a story 25 Investigates broke. Two people with the coronavirus attended a big party in Somerville for wedding vendors in early March. The woman who spoke with Boston 25 News is one of those two.

Lara Woolfson is a local photographer hired to photograph that event.

“I was just out doing my job, acting normal, and the next thing you know I’m in an emergency room surrounded by people in spacesuits,” she said.

Woolfson has since recovered from COVID-19.

“I was photographing a conference that was here in town. I work with them often and this was the second time photographing this big conference for them,” she said. “About a week after, I noticed I had a little dry cough. About two days after that, the cough had gone away. But I got a message from a friend with a news article about this particular conference I had photographed.”

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The next day, Woolfson’s symptoms did not improve.

“That following day I was not feeling great,” she said. “It was sort of the day before you come down with something. I was a little bit achy and tired."

That's when Woolfson called her doctor.

“I thought I was overreacting just calling them. And they said, ‘do you have a mask at home?’” Woolfson recalled. “I said yes. They asked me to put on a mask and gloves and said that someone would be waiting for me at Mt. Auburn Hospital ambulance bay."

About a week passed before she discovered she’d been exposed. In those first days, she had no symptoms and was working a lot.

“This time of year for me, it’s conference season,” she said. “So between where I was exposed, I photographed another conference here in the city. I had also photographed the B-List party.”

The B-List party took place at the row hotel in Somerville on March 4.

25 Investigates first reported that two people tested positive for coronavirus after attending the annual party for hundreds of wedding vendors. Woolfson was one of them.

>>>MORE: 25 Investigates: 2 test positive for COVID-19 after attending party expo in Somerville

“By the time I had gotten the results, I almost didn’t need the results because I was feeling awful I was exhausted, bedridden,” she said. “I had chills, I had a fever, I had like a very big tightness in the chest. It almost feels like I couldn’t fill my lungs and breathe properly.”

But Woolfson did recover.

“I did, yeah,” she said. “It took a full week of being in bed being the sickest I had ever been.”

At her sickest, Woolfson did what she had to do and reached out to everyone she came in contact with.

“When I first got my diagnosis, the thought of telling people was…my heart just kind of sank,” she said. “I was embarrassed. I didn’t know how people were going to take the news.”

Woolfson wanted to share her story with the public for two reasons.

“I’m like everybody else; I’m glued to the phone and the computer right now because we are all socially distancing and staying home,” she said. “And I’m watching the stories that are coming out about the virus and they’re scary, terrifying.”

Many of those stories don't match her experience. That said, her other reason for speaking out is to remind to everyone to take this crisis seriously – if not for yourself, then for everyone else.

“It's wash your hands, it’s being thoughtful. Think of more than just yourself,” she said. “What we have to do is come together and do this hard thing. We need to stay indoors. We need to stay apart. But just know we are all in the same boat.”

Woolfson said she’s grateful she was so busy working that she didn’t have time to visit her parents. Her dad is going through chemotherapy and would be considered higher risk if he got sick.